Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Coverage Ink/Cyberspace Open Newsletter 11-10

1) Shorties
5) Lettuce


For the first time in my life, movies are boring the crap out of me.

This is a bad place to be in, not just because it’s what I do for a living, but because, well, something that has given me enjoyment for 4 decades is suddenly not getting it done. It fills me with a sense of, “oh, poop.” What if the joy never comes back? Then what the heck do I do?

It all started last week. First I saw “Legends of the Guardians” with my daughter. If you haven’t seen it, this is a very good family movie with breathtakingly detailed CG animation. But for having too many characters and a few plot holes, it was well-done. But ultimately I found it “been there, done that.” It hit all the classic screenplay structural beats, right out of Save the Cat! and mythology, and I was aware of this every step of the way. Further, the tale was basically “Star Wars” with owls. Lest you think I’m being unfairly harsh on a kiddie movie (“Dude, what do you expect?!”) let’s move on.

That same night I went to see “Red.” Also a good movie -- ‘twas stylish and amusing, and heck, it was great to see an ensemble of old fogies kicking butt (Helen Mirren with a .50-millimeter machine gun? Oh, yes.) But by the end… boring. I knew exactly where it was going, what was going to happen (my friend and I took turns predicting all the plot twists throughout) and ultimately I felt this was a movie I wanted to love, but it fell short.

The trailer for “Due Date” did not help. This was one of the most amusing previews I’ve seen in a while. Three minutes packed with solid laughs. It did its job well. And yet all I could think was, “yawn – a road movie.” Yep, it begins with the typical contrived reason why the mismatched people are forced to travel by car together; the inevitable odd couple antics ensue. Boring! Okay, look, don’t think I’m dissing road movies. “Little Miss Sunshine” is a brilliant one. But that one brought something new to the table. It took the formula and kicked its ass.

Let’s face it. We’re screenwriters, which means we generally watch a lot of movies. One becomes aware of the clichés of specific genres perhaps more than the average moviegoer. So while I’m sure “Due Date” will be a big hit and probably deservedly so, I really don’t think I can pony up my 12 bucks to see it. I can no longer support the stale, the formulaic. This, by the way, is the reason the traditional romantic comedy is pretty much dead, replaced by the male-driven rom/com or bromance. By 1999, rom/coms had become so formulaic that seriously, who could sit through another one? Hollywood got the memo and has duded up the genre in an attempt to inject some fresh fly flava (“She’s Out of My League” was a classic rom/com complete with cliché airport chase at the end, but the protagonist was a dorky guy instead of Meg Ryan.)

But none of these observations hit home until I saw the third movie last week -- Adam Rifkin’s “Look.” If you have not seen this movie, you need to Netflix it right now. “Look” is hands-down the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in some time. Why? Because it was so different. It was *not* formulaic. “Look” is basically an ensemble drama, a genre I tend to steer clear of. But Rifkin’s hook sucks you in: the entire movie, these candid glimpses into its characters’ lives, are all seen through the point of view of surveillance cameras. (Read my interview with Rifkin where he talks about “Look” right here.) It’s a cool gimmick, and the splash of voyeurism keeps you tantalized. But a gimmick only gets you so far; thereafter, the story has to hold your attention. And Rifkin’s story just kicked my derriere nine ways to Sunday. Twists and slick feints keep you guessing as the tale builds to its frenetic and gripping conclusion. This is a master filmmaker’s showcase work, and it’s no wonder the film won a heap of awards and begat a Showtime series.

What does all this mean? I can tell you this – if I’m feeling that movies are stale, how do you think agents, managers and executives feel -- guys who read 25 scripts a week? So while it is crucially important to know the rudiments of structure, it’s probably even more important to be able to break out of the box. Throw some monkey wrenches into your story. Break the mold. Zig when everyone expects a zag. Defy the paradigm. If you can do it in a way that doesn’t break the rules, you may well draw attention to yourself and possibly even redefine the genre. You have your mission, should you choose to accept it.


Tons of goodness for you below. We've got not one but two awesome raffles, courtesy of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! and; a big SALE!, plus we've got news and grooviness (Writers on the Storm winner being courted by a major agency!) and pithy tales of woe, and it's all coming at you right freakin' now.

Onward and downward!

Jim Cirile
The Industry Experts

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THE CYBERSPACE OPEN RETURNS. Think you have what it takes to write one good scene? Then bring it, bucko! The Creative Screenwriting Cyberspace Open is back, and once again our esteemed team here at Coverage Ink will handle the judging. Prizes are $2500, $500 and $250 for first, second and third place. And all you have to do is write a scene. That's it. Well... of course, you have to write a scene that conforms to scene parameters we will give you last-minute... for example: Your PROTAGONIST has just pulled off the scam of the century -- or so he (or she) thinks. But there’s a loose end -- his own blabbermouth MOTHER, who’s on her way to the authorities to turn him in. Write the scene in which the protagonist and his two BUSINESS ASSOCIATES try to intercept mom… and take care of her, one way or another.

The top three scenes will also be videotaped and put up on the web for all of you guys to vote on! (click HERE to see the previous winning scenes.) The tournament begins January 7, 2011, but register now and you'll get in at the discount price of $10.99. Click HERE to Register online. Looking forward to you guys blowing us away!

COVERAGE, INK SALE! Let's end 2010 with a bang. How about 20 bucks off any Coverage Ink feature screenplay coverage and 15 bucks off any 1-hr TV script? Make it so, number one. Just enter CINEWSLETTERNOV in the text box on your order form. Expires 11-25-10, may not be combined with any other discount.

Don't forget our gift certificates! Pick one up for your screenwriter significant other, or even better, take advantage of the sale and buy a few for yourself!

CI CLIENT SIGNS - THEN LOSES - REPRESENTATION. Well, this doesn't make us happy. One of our clients, a hard-working writer, recently signed with a well-known management company. The relationship lasted under two weeks. What happened was, the manager told our client that he expected lightning-fast turnaround on all his rewrites and a steady stream of output in the range of 3-4 new specs per year. The client, not realizing the best answer here was to simply agree, made the mistake of telling the manager the truth -- that his calling card script had taken over a year and 15 drafts to get it to that point. He further asked the manager about exactly what they intended to do for him. The manager asserted that they have a certain way of doing things and they expect the client to play ball -- their way or the highway. The writer politely fired back more questions, to the effect of, I thought if you're my manager, don't you work for me? And that was basically that. Long story short -- the manager here was demanding and a bit of an ass. I've had 4 managers in my life and none acted like this guy. On the other hand, one of my best manager friends is just such a slave-driver and he makes his clients rich. As for the client, he made the mistake of actually thinking this was a two-way relationship, which it isn't -- not when you're starting out anyway. You have to accept a fair amount of "thank you, sir, may I have another?" May you all learn from this unfortunate example...

WIN A "CAT!" Isn't she cute? Don't you just want to pick her up and pet her and brush tumbleweed-sized clumps of cat hair off your clothes and enjoy the feel of cat litter under your toes on the bathroom floor as well as the smell of fresh poop in the cat box in the morning? Well, not with THIS cat! No, our friends at Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! have offered us a free downloadable copy of their terrific Save the Cat! software (an $89.95 value.) We're raffling that bad boy off to you.

We have been playing around with the software for a while now, and it is a blast. The thing is, it is simple and intuitive as well as slightly maddening in that it forces you to proceed with your screenplay in an organized, focused, and well-reasoned manner and to justify your decisions as you go. It's like a master's course in screenwriting on a shiny little metallized plastic disk. To enter the raffle, e-mail and enter CAT! in the subject line and put your contact info in the e-mail. We'l randomly draw one lucky winner. Enter now and good luck!

TRACKING B CONTEST RAFFLE - LAST CHANCE! Regular readers know that we don't plug a lot of other contests and services, but one we do plug regularly (and receive no payment for doing so) is the Tracking B contest. Tracking B is a real, live industry tracking board, and their contest is unique. There are no prizes per se. But the winners are read by a galactic class of industry movers and shakers, and actual career movement regularly happens for the lucky winners. The Really Late deadline is November 15, and at $75, it ain't cheap. But if your script is polished to a brilliant shine and you are confident you have the goods, then let fly, baby.

And this is your last chance to enter our raffle -- free entry to the contest for one lucky Coverage Ink newsletter reader! E-mail right now and put TRACKINGB CONTEST in the subject line, and your contact info in the e-mail. Raffle ends 11-10, so get a move on! 

UTA CIRCLING WRITERS ON THE STORM WINNER. We've been sending out the Writers on the Storm (Coverage Ink's very own writing contest) 2009 top ten scripts, hoping that one of them will attract attention. And one has. One of our top ten caught the eye of none other than United Talent Agency. We've just received their letter of interest, and they wish to discuss possible representation with the writer! To say this is amazing news is like saying the ocean is wet. UTA may well be the best agency in the world -- big enough to have serious clout, yet still hands-on and personal with every client. We wish we could tell you the writer's name, but because this person is already represented, we need to play this close to the vest for the time being. Of course, we'll keep you posted as this develops, but BIG CONGRATULATIONS, WRITER X!

PITCHFEST SURVEY - LAST CHANCE. We're doing an article rating the pitch fests in an upcoming issue of Script magazine. If you've been to a pitch festival or two and would like to share your opinion, please take this online survey. We'd love to hear about your experience. And we accidentally left off Screenwriters Conference Sante Fe, so if you've attended that please leave a comment. Thanks!

BEWARE OF PYTHONS. Deadline Hollywood reports that Phoenix Pictures has hired Monty Python alum Terry Jones ("Life of Brian") to direct a new comedy feature called Absolutely Anything, from an original script Jones wrote with Gavin Scott. The script reportedly involves "aliens, a goofy Brit, a talking dog and buckets of silliness."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart correspondent John Oliver will star, and Jones is in discussions with Robin Williams to play the role of Dennis the Dog. He has reached out to former Python pals John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam to voice the aliens. The film will be financed out of the UK, and production will begin by next spring. Phoenix's Mike Medavoy has long been a fan of Jones and the Pythons and is excited about getting the band back together. “Funny is money,” he says. And by the way, if you have kids, do yourself a favor and check out some of Jones' wild books of fairy tales, some of the funniest yarns you'll ever read to your kid and a refreshing break from Captain Underpants (with no disrespect to the great Dav Pilkey.)

D-I-Y IS A-OK. We are all in favor of the workers seizing the means of production, literally, so we're pleased to tell you about two CI clients who are doing just that. New York writer/actor George Pogatsia has been slowly but surely building a formibable cast for his indie feature THE PIZZA TAPES. Pogatsia now has letters of commitment from Michael Madsen, Michael Badalucco, Nicholas Turturro, Robert Davi, John Schneider, and another half dozen actors of note. More on this as Pogatsia continues to move the ball down the field. And here in Los Angeles, director/writer/editor Mark Oguschewitz plans to bring his character-driven werewolf movie LYCANTHROPY to the screen. Oguschewitz says they have a letter of intent from Dee Wallace Stone and interest from Creature Effects, Inc. (Cowboys Vs. Aliens.) Oguschewitz and his producing team will be at American Film Market looking to raise financing and they hope that their approach -- makeup effects versus CG, characters and tension versus blood and gore -- will attract investors' interest. Check out our story on RHYME ANIMAL below for another great DIY story. Seizing the reins, my friends, is a beautiful thing.



by Steve Kaire

Think you have a handle on how things work in the screenwriting biz? Let's find out. Pop quiz -- 20 questions. Ready? Go!

1) The average selling price of a spec screenplay is between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

That’s false. The average sale price is usually in the low six figures.

2) Formatting a screenplay correctly is less important than the material itself.

False. Incorrect formatting, spelling and punctuation will send your script to the recycling bin unread.

3) It is permissible to read your pitch to the listener.

False. Never, ever read your pitch. Make eye contact and establish rapport with your listener.

4) A treatment shouldn’t contain any dialogue and should be double-spaced.

That’s true.

5) Studio executives are the first people you should pitch your material to.

False. Don’t waste your time pitching to studio executives. Pitch to producers and production companies instead.

6) Always include your resume with your query letter.

False. Never include a resume with your query letter, which should be no longer than one page.

7) Managers cannot legally negotiate a deal for their clients.

True. Managers are not licensed and must use the services of an entertainment attorney or an agent to negotiate a deal.

8) William Morris/Endeavor, UTA, ICM and CAA are the first places writers should go to seek representation.

No way. They are way too big. You should try the smaller to medium sized agencies and management companies first. The chances of breaking into a big agency as a newbie are remote.

9) Writers trying to sell their scripts shouldn’t ask to produce, direct or star in their film.

True. Don’t make it easier for them to say no.

10) It’s safe to send your material to companies that are not listed in the Hollywood Creative Directory.

False. Many people pass themselves off as producers. If they are not listed in the Directory, don’t send them your material. Find the Directory at

11) Entertainment attorneys work only on an hourly basis.

False. You can negotiate with them to take 5% to 10% of the deal.

12) Writers who sue a studio or production company for theft of their material generally win their lawsuits.

False. It’s a costly uphill battle that writers almost always lose, and worse, it could be a career-killer, as no studio will want to work with someone deemed litigious or a pest.

13) It’s unethical for a production company or studio executive to ask a Writers Guild member to make changes to a script without payment.

True. That violates the Writers Guild Minimum Basic Agreement. But it happens all the time anyway.

14) The length of spec screenplays should be around 120 pages.

False. Spec screenplays are now generally 95 to 110 pages in length.

15) It’s unethical to send out your material to multiple production companies and agents at the same time.

False. Multiple submissions are necessary for writers to try and get their material read. If asked, you can mention that your material has been sent to a few places.

16) Scripts can only be sold to signatory companies of the Writers Guild in order to qualify for membership.

True. You cannot sell your screenplay to a friend to gain admittance into the Writers Guild.

17) If you register your script with the Writers Guild and claim theft of material,the Guild will represent you in court.

True. You’ll have to get an entertainment attorney to verify your claim and the Guild will then back you up in your case.

18) Your logline should be a summary of what happens in Acts One, Two and Three.

False. Your logline is the premise or the setup of your story, not happens in your three acts.

19) It’s harder to sell ideas now than it was ten years ago.

True. There is much less development money now than in the past. Producers and studios prefer screenplays to ideas and treatments.

20) A hook is a detail that’s added to a logline that makes an overpitched subject feel original.



How did you do? Check out my audio CD for more on this as well as insights into how to come up with those oh-so-elusive high-concept ideas. See you next month, and in the meantime, remember, your next concept could be the million-dollar one!


Steve Kaire is Hollywood's resident high-concept guru. Check out our review of Kaire's "High Concept" audio CD right here. Kaire has eight studio sales under his belt -- all of which he scored without representation -- and decades of experience in the biz. His web site is



At last! You’ve polished your masterpiece into a brilliant gem of spec-scripty goodness, and you’ve scored yourself a representative. Now can you keep that ball rolling?

By Jim Cirile


Richard Arlook
The Arlook Group

Nicole Clemens
International Creative Management

A.B. Fischer
The Shuman Company

Emile Gladstone
International Creative Management

Julien Thuan
United Talent Agency

Jake Wagner
I’ve done a lot of columns about breaking in since I took over this column years ago. This time out, let’s assume that after years of honing your craft, studying the business and banging away at the 12’-thick electrified wrought iron portcullis separating you from Hollywood, you’ve finally scored representation and have a spec script going out. Sweet!

We all know that connections are everything in Hollywood, so I was very curious to know if a new (or “baby”) writer’s spec would be taken as seriously as if that same script had been written by a name writer. UTA’s Julien Thuan actually thinks it’s easier to get a buyer to make an offer on a newcomer, “because there’s less development money. Anytime someone can find a great script with a perceived lower price point, they get very excited,” he says. “It reduces the thought process to the quality of the material.” And ICM agent Emile Gladstone believes a new writer’s spec has as good a shot as an established one’s. “A recognizable name may get your script read faster, but if you have your event movie that everybody’s looking for right now, people will respond,” says Gladstone. Manager Jake Wagner from FilmEngine adds, “Of course, people will read a David Benioff (Troy, Wolverine) script the day they get it, whereas they may sit on a new writer’s for a week or so. But at the end of the day, it’s about what’s on the page.”

Thuan also tips the odds by craftily turning unknown writers into known quantities. “Ideally, you’ve introduced the writer in some way,” he says,” whether it’s because they had another writing sample, or you’ve found some way to frame it so that the potential buyers have a familiarity or understanding of that writer as a person. They tend to get more invested and loosen up a little bit in their faith in the writer’s ability to execute. Suddenly they have a relationship with the writer, or an awareness of the writer, beyond just what’s on the page.” Voila -- instant connection!

Suppose a buyer is circling. How do our panelists get them to pony up an offer? Wagner says there are two ways to play the game: straight-shooter or smoke-and-mirrors. “You don’t want to burn a buyer,” cautions Wagner. “If we’ve got someone interested, instead of (saying), ‘Oh, we’re going to take it (to another buyer) instead,’ we’ll give them that fair shot. We’ll try the best we can to make that deal work. Everybody knows the hype game anyway. It’s almost old-school.” The Arlook Group’s Richard Arlook agrees that misleading a buyer into thinking another company is interested is self-destructive. “Everything is about leverage," he says. “But if it’s not there, I never try to say that somebody is interested when they’re not. It backfires, and you look like an idiot.” So how does Arlook get that buyer to make an offer when there’s no leverage? “If it’s a studio, you go to them and say, ‘Listen, we’ll make it cheap.’” 

ICM’s Nicole Clemens notes, “Even without leverage, if you can create some heat, and if the producers appreciate the idea, (you can get the price up,)” she says. “It depends on what you have to work with. For example, if they want to buy it because another studio is developing a pitch with a similar idea, but this script is pretty close to going, you can drive the price higher on that. We can fan the flames, but if you have no actual leverage, (you may be out of luck.)” Wagner agrees, “With a baby writer, we just hope for a scale deal, or scale plus 10% -- get some money in their bank account, get some meetings, hopefully book some assignments off that spec.”

And then hopefully you'll find yourself taking a lot of meetings. Yes, that means you will have to go out and interact with people. I know some of us wish we could hole up in our little caves, stalagmites dripping on our heads as we type in dark hermitage. If that’s the case, “you should be a playwright, or you should be a novelist,” says Gladstone. “Hollywood is a collaborative industry.” Which brings us to probably the most important lesson of this column: it is paramount you learn to be “good in a room.” All of our panelists agree that being personable and ebullient in meetings is critical to having any sort of sustained career. “You have to be extraordinarily talented to (get by with being) very quiet and uncommunicative,” continues Gladstone, who goes so far as to send his writer clients to acting class. “(Executives) are bored. They have A.D.D. I’m not saying drink 20 cappuccinos and be psychotic, but you have to be big in a room.” Wagner adds, “It’s an interview to see if they want to work with you. If an exec brings you in on an assignment or takes out a pitch with you, you’re in their life for maybe the next six months to a year, or more if the movie gets green-lit.” 

Arlook reminds everyone to research whom you’re meeting with. “There are some people that if you go in there and you’re all hyper, that’s a turnoff. Everybody’s got a different personality. What are their likes and dislikes? That’s your job to do your research.” And find out the producer’s slate, too. “If you know they have a big sci-fi assignment,” says Gladstone, ”you can say, ‘I really love sci-fi movies’ and list three movies similar to the assignment they have. They’ll say, ‘Oh! Well, we have this assignment…’ It’s not just enough to be a talented writer. You have to lead the conversation.”

Okay, so say you land that first sale. Nice work! Now how do you keep it going? First things first: expect to rewrite your script. “I think the mistake a lot of (agents) make,” says Clemens, “is that a client sells a script, and they send him out on the parade float -- but at a certain point, (the client) needs to nail that rewrite. Better to not be too focused on, ‘Okay, what’s my next thing?’” Clemens cautions that delivering on the rewrite is a crucial demonstration of the writer's ability to take notes and deliver, and she recommends not saturating the client with work too early. “You have to be careful not to overload yourself. I’ve had this happen -- (the client’s) so green, they’re right out of college, they sell their first script and they’re taking all these assignments. And then they neglect their rewrite, or they get overwhelmed in the process. Next thing you know, they’re tanking.” Gladstone notes that a big part of his job is playing traffic cop, making sure his clients don’t overextend themselves. “It’s very hard to deliver on three jobs simultaneously, and you don’t want to make people wait. They hire you to do a job; they expect you to do it now. You don’t want to take the job until you’re on the downhill slope of whatever other job you’re on.”

Lastly, we asked our panelists for advice they’d give potential new clients. Gladstone feels that most importantly, a client should be respectful of the agent’s time. “They’re not your shrink. Don’t call them up with your personal problems. Time is my commodity. Time is (the writer’s) commodity, too.” Gladstone also advises that a writer should ask the rep a lot of questions and not be railroaded. “If they say, ‘I want to you to these three producers with this project,’ (ask) ‘Why these three? I’d like to know.’ I’m not saying challenge them, but if you don’t understand something, ask questions.” Thuan feels that the agent and the client both need to be clear about their expectations up front. “The agent has to work really, really hard to break a new writer,” says Thuan. “But it’s also about passion. Anytime that I’ve been successful in introducing a writer, some of the reason why people read the writer in the first place, or read it in the right frame of mind, is because I’m passionate about the writer. Too often I think the word ‘flyer’ is used, and I think it’s accurate. Agents will take on a client thinking, ‘Oh, this script might sell. We’ll put him on the list.’ Frankly, you have to hold your agent to a high standard of taste and know that things your agent sends out are read seriously.” Arlook concludes, “Until they start really generating a lot of money, their expectations should be that as long as the agent is honest with them and trying to sell their sell their scripts, they should make an effort not to be a pain in the ass,” he laughs.

Reprinted courtesy of Creative Screenwriting magazine.


The "Rhyme Animal" Story

by Jorge Rivera 

What do you do with a indie TV pilot that everyone likes but which ultimately fizzles out on the festival circuit? Well, if you're New York indie filmmaker Jorge Rivera, you do not call it a day -- you recut that bad boy, win a passel of awards and land distribution! Now that's what I call writer empowerment. Way to go, Jorge! 


Hi Jim,

Just wanted to take a moment to let you and the Coverage Ink family know the latest and greatest about RHYME ANIMAL (, the dramatic horror series that I created with the help of several wildly talented and dedicated friends. I’m thrilled to report that our seven-episode web series just went online at Koldcast.TV, the premier web television network! 

Set in the cutthroat New York City hip-hop scene, RHYME ANIMAL tells the story of an ambitious DJ who rides the coattails of an up-and-coming rapper.  Only problem is, the rapper might also be a cannibalistic serial killer.  RHYME ANIMAL asks a question that should resonate with many of us who are struggling to make it in film or TV: How far will you go for success?

RHYME ANIMAL started with a nightmare I had about being the victim of a cannibalistic hip-hop MC, and it immediately inspired me to write a screenplay. With the help of co-writers/co-producers Aaron F. Schnore and Billy Fox, (Fox is of course one of CI's top story analysts; Schnore also cowrote Coverage Ink's first short film SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ) we developed the script as a short indie TV pilot within a few months. I spent nearly a year raising funds and recruiting professional cast and crew, then shot the story on Super-16. Later that year, it started a successful run on the festival circuit, and in 2008 it premiered as an independent television pilot at the New York Television Festival. But by late 2008, RHYME ANIMAL had run its course on the festival circuit. We'd gotten good notices, but basically, we were done.

Frankly, this bummed me out. I always saw the potential in this thing as a series, but the version we had just wasn't getting it done the way I'd wanted. How could I sell people on my vision? Against the advice of my peers, I went back into the edit bay and recut our pilot. The story had natural "buttons", or dramatic scene endings or cliffhangers, every two or three minutes. With a little bit of tinkering we now had seven short, tight webisodes.

I tested the waters with the new edit, and the response was explosive. RHYME ANIMAL began to make its mark: we were finalists in the long-form web content category at the 2009 National Association of Television Program Executives’ Next TV competition, and then again at the 2009 NexTV Entertainment web series competition.  We won the Pitch-a-Thon category at the 2009 HBO Latino Film Festival. This year, we were at the Independent Television Festival (which connected us directly with Koldcast), and just a few weeks ago we won Best Web Series at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Black Film Festival. But by far I’m proudest that Koldcast invited us to join their network. This platform will allow us to reach a massive audience of discerning viewers, and will draw serious attention to a story that I believe will one day have legs as a cable television series.
I remember being on set on our third day of shooting, watching the machinery that is a film crew unfold in front of me, and thinking to myself, “Holy sh*t!  This was barely a wisp of an idea in my brain less than a year ago.”  I was amazed at what was happening: the crew, cast, gear and about forty extras hard at work actualizing something based literally on a dream… a dream that could have easily been forgotten minutes after waking.

RHYME ANIMAL has been responsible for many lasting friendships and professional relationships. I was privileged to work with Al Thompson (The Royal Tenenbaums), Craig “muMs” Grant (HBO’s Oz), Bridget Barkan (SherryBaby), and award-winning director Phil Roc. There really is no experience like watching something you’ve written come to life on a set, and then sitting back as an audience reacts to your work… especially when you can do it with a team of friends.

My advice to aspiring film/web/TV show-makers:  Write something and find a way to shoot it. Don’t wait for some production company to buy your spec and develop it.  With digital technology and new media outlets, it’s now possible to produce your own story and to seize power over your destiny as an artist and creator.  If you have a compelling vision, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to attract talented and dedicated cast and crew, and to expose your story to audiences around the world.  It can be an arduous process, but trust me:  well worth the effort!

Jorge Rivera

Check out RHYME ANIMAL right HERE. Or “Like” us on Facebook for updates.



Yes, we stole the name of our Letters column from "Cracked."

Andy N. writes:
Hi Jim, I'm progressing through your marked up notes and must take my hat of to your professionalism, and your patience. All corrections are of interest, and my bloated writing becomes more and more evident as each page is addressed. So many thanks for all that. Believe me when I say this type of comprehensive and in-depth service is hard to find. It's certainly refreshing, and has cemented my future loyalty. On a small query -- I use Movie Magic Screenwriter 6. You mention putting info into 'Title Cards'. Can I assume Screenwriter 6 'Index Cards' are the same thing?

Jim C. replies: Thanks, Andy. No, by title cards it just means an overlay on screen, like this:

TITLE CARD: Billings, Montana
            6 Years Ago

Rockwood writes: Hey Jim, thanks so much for your service. Your reader JT is so thorough and on the money. His insight and attention to detail are exactly what I pay you for. In the past twenty plus years, I have taken classes and seminars with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. I have not learned as much from all of them put together as I do when I read my coverage from your service. Thanks again. You'll be getting another script in the near future.

Jim C. replies: Wow, high praise indeed! Thanks, man. Check's in the mail ;)

Lee T. writes: Hi Jim, just wanted to let you know I got my TV pilot/series concept MIDNIGHT PRINCESS in the Top Ten Finalists (TV Drama Category) of PAGE this year. My 4th time in the PAGE Top Ten. Maybe this one will be the charm??? Also, my teen romantic comedy script THE GODS MUST BE HORNY is now a Finalist (top 3 - Comedy category) in the new Scriptathon Screenwriting Contest. To this I owe you and Writers on the Storm a big debt of gratitude, since this is the rewrite as per the notes I got from your readers. The script, then called ATLANTA FROM OLYMPUS, got all the way through the semifinal cut of WOTS 2009. One of the notes was "change the title." :) Scriptathon ran a "best title" minicontest during it's month-long run. THE GODS MUST BE HORNY was the winner!  Got some free Movie Outline software for that :)

Jim C. replies: LOL! Great title. I love how you went for it with something brazen and got rewarded for it! There may be hope for my comedy "Great Expectorations" after all!

Ben L. writes: Hey Jim, just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed your service the first time.  We incorporated many of the suggestions and "Chase" made it to the semi-finals of the 2010 Slamdance writing competition. We've made more changes since then and wanted one more look before we try our luck with managers and/or agents. So thanks, and looking forward to hearing from you!

Jim C. replies: Slamdance semis! That's damn good stuff. Rock it out, Ben!

Craig C. writes: You guys (esp. BF) helped me develop a low-budget psychological horror/thriller called Controlled through '08 and '09. Well, I kept rewriting, and it just won the Screamfest Horror Film Festival's screenplay contest! What's more, a young producer who was a contest judge would like to try to set it up somewhere with about a 500k budget. She says she's been out on her own a year and a half with eight fairly low-budget projects in development at various places, but hasn't formed a company per se yet since she wants to get her career going before dealing with WGA writers/rules. She may also team with Screamfest founder RachelBelofsky (Candy Heart Productions) in the setting up of Controlled. With your reputation as writer's liaison to the business end of Hollywood, do you have any advice on all of this?

Jim C. replies: Hi Craig, that's awesome! Congrats! It's not unusual for newbie producers to fly solo, so no worries there. Many have LLCs or sole proprietorships or DBAs, but some simply have nothing. It's all good. Anyway, the short answer is, anyone who can help you, let them. See what she comes up with. If need be you can always bring in a lawyer or, if you can get one, a representative when there's an offer on the table. Just bear in mind a $10K payday for a script that gets made on the ultra-low end is not that unusual (sometimes even less.) Don't expect to get into the Guild with it. The important thing is to just build a body of work and people who will work with you. Good luck!

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